Fernando Torres did not score on his second Atletico Madrid debut, but the La Liga champions secured a morale-boosting 2-0 win over neighbours Real Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 clash on Wednesday.
Torres, making his first start since arriving on loan from AC Milan last week, took centre stage in the capital city derby but it was Raul Garcia’s penalty and Uruguayan defender Jose Maria Gimenez’s header that ensured the ‘Los Roji Blancos’ travel to the Santiago Bernebeu in a week’s time with a 2-goal advantage.
The Vicente Calderon crowd were delighted to have their famous son back after spells away with a seven-year absence but, despite cheering ‘El Nino’s’ to form throughout his hour-long involvement, the Cup holders were able to shut him out after all.
Gareth Bale was rightly denied an opener, with his 13th-minute header correctly ruled for an offside.
Rafael Varane recovered quickly to deny fellow Frenchman Antoine Griezmann a shot at goal with a perfect sliding tackle after the Real defender gave away the ball sheepishly.
Atletico were awarded a penalty four minutes after Bale had fluffed a right-footed volley as Sergio Ramos dragged Garcia to the floor, dragging on the midfielder’s shirt in the 56th minute. The Spaniard found the bottom right corner with the resultant spot kick to break the deadlock.
Torres paved way for Koke and Real introduced their dreaded frontman Cristiano Ronaldo in a move to unleash a rampant attack. The Portuguese however blew a 20-yard free-kick wide to the bemusement of the ‘Los Blancos’s’ teaming supporters, who had little time to debate whether it was meant to be a shot or cross.
Teenage substitute, Gimenez, doubled the hosts’ lead on 76 minutes, sinking a powerful header across goal off a corner.
Elsewhere in the other last 16 fixtures, Denis Cheryshev 72nd-minute strike handed Villarreal a 1-0 edge against Real Sociedad.
Valencia’s Alvaro Negredo’s 86th-minute penalty sealed a 2-1 win over Espanyol after Christian Stuani had earlier cancelled out Jose Gaya’s opener.